CLINTON BRIGGS RIPLEY BASLER
Clinton Briggs Ripley Basler passed away peacefully on March 6, 2018 with a smile on his face, perhaps knowing he would be with his wife of 73 years, Mimi. His 99 years began and ended in the family home his grandfather built, but he had a whole lot of living and traveling in between.
The son of Carl E. Basler and Iwalani Ripley, his education included Punahou; home schooling by his mother; St. Alban’s School in Washington, D. C., where he sang in the choir; Dover High School in Dover, New Jersey; Punahou (again); University of Hawaii, and the University of Chicago. Before attending the University of Chicago, a heart murmur stymied Clint’s dream of attending West Point to follow his stepfather, U.S. Army General Johnny Johnson. Yet, Clint enlisted in the U.S. Army in November 1941 and volunteered for Armored Force Officer Candidate School shortly after Pearl Harbor.
While attending the University of Chicago earlier, he met Mimi von Tour, then at Northwestern University. Clint and Mimi dated mutual friends and, eventually, their casual relationship deepened until, serious with the onset of World War II, they married on January 19, 1943 in Las Vegas. Clint and Mimi moved with his Armored Force postings from California to Texas to Fort Benning, Georgia. When Clint went overseas, Mimi headed to Washington, D.C., living with his mother and stepfather and working for the Brazilian Embassy.
Clint served as an Army Captain and Company Commander in the U.S. Armored Force 771st Tank Battalion from 1941-1946. Arriving on Omaha Beach in the European theater shortly after D-Day, Clint’s Division pressed eastward into Germany with heavy action until the final German surrender in 1945 when the Division arrived at the River Elbe facing the Russian tank corps on the opposite shore. Clint continued after the war in the U.S. Army Reserves and retired as a Major with a Bronze Star Medal for outstanding service.
Upon discharge in 1946, Clint trained as a business executive in New Jersey and New York for Sterling Products International. In 1950 he became General Manager and Director in various locations, including Hawaii (4 years), Southeast Asia and Singapore (6 years), Jamaica (17 years), and again in Hawaii (4 years). He was unusual even for his time, in that, he started and ended his working career with a single firm until his retirement in 1981.
Clint and Mimi started their post-WWII life by settling in New Jersey for Clint’s management training with Sterling Drug’s International Division. Two daughters, Katherine (Tina) and Deborah (Fuzzi) arrived over the next few years. Clint’s first posting for Sterling was to Hawaii, where he, Mimi, and the two girls had a home for four years in Kailua. Clint then managed Sterling’s Southeast Asia operations from Singapore for six years, where he traveled throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific, while Mimi took the girls camping, braving tropical coral snakes and other exotic wildlife. Clint and Mimi’s dinner parties in Singapore were legendary!
Mimi and the girls followed Clint in his next assignment to Kingston, Jamaica, where the family lived for seventeen years, residing for a time in the former home of Ian Fleming, the James Bond author. In Jamaica, Clint was active in the Kingston Chamber of Commerce; supported local development as Chairman for the League of Friends of Kingston Public Hospital; led efforts to construct an elementary school; and began his long association with Rotary by starting the St. Andrew Rotary Club.
Reposted to Hawaii in 1977, Clint retired four years later as Regional Vice President. Clint and Mimi resettled then in the Honolulu home built by his grandfather, distinguished architect Clinton Briggs Ripley, a home Clint and Mimi loved and lived in for more than 38 years.
Clint and Mimi were wonderfully devoted to each other until her death after more than 73 years of marriage. They traveled the world together across all continents (except Antarctica), often with their two daughters, Tina and Fuzzi, and later with sons-in-law and grandsons, on adventures to Europe. Often, Clint and Mimi would stay with old friends and colleagues during their travels, and many, in turn, would visit them here in Hawaii. Clint was the consummate host and Mimi was a perfect complement to his efforts. They maintained a lively correspondence with many friends until age limited their interactions. Clint cared deeply for Mimi and was her caregiver until the very end—she passed away holding his hand. His devotion to her and their devotion to each other was humbling and magnificent.
Always admirably active recreationally, Clint was a longtime member of Jamaica’s Caymanas Golf Club, the Outrigger Canoe Club, and the Kaneohe Yacht Club’s Tennis Fleet. He swam, sailed, played tennis until he was 95 with his KYC friends (who nicknamed him ‘Rabbit’), and golfed until 97 (usually pulling his own cart and even complaining about scores of 47 and 49 for nine holes!). And, when he could no longer play alongside his friends, he still met them regularly on Thursdays after they played to have coffee and ‘talk story’ on the Kaneohe Marine Base. Clint missed them profoundly when he could no longer drive in late 2017…their shenanigans on a phone call again brought laughter and tears to him in his waning weeks.
Clint was active and involved in his community: as a career-long member of Rotary International in the Honolulu Rotary Club (as the oldest member in recent years); on the Nuuanu Neighborhood Board; Bishop Museum Board; Kaneohe Yacht Club; and JLP Robinson Trust Manager.
Clint leaves his daughter Katherine ‘Tina’ (Mark) Terry of Star Valley, AZ; daughter Deborah ‘Fuzzi’ Basler (John ‘Tam’ Tamulonis) of Eugene, OR; grandson Sean Basler (Beth Levin) of Brooklyn, NY; grandson Clinton ‘Kai’ Tamulonis (Cindy Chen) of Seattle, WA; and visiting emotional-support dog, best cuddler & bacon thief, Maile. The family would especially like to thank Dr. Melvin Palalay; his innovative immunotherapy treatment; staff at the Queen’s Cancer Center; and our angelic-caregivers, Eunice, Cynthia, Rochelle, Louise, and Polla who helped make Clint’s last several months healthy, comfortable, and fun.
Clint’s grandson, Kai, described his passing in this delightful way: "While he’s moved on from this world, he’s got the best seat to hold hands with Mimi on the lanai up above." That’s for sure!
Aloha nui kakou, Clint / Daddy / Dad!
Family and friends will ‘talk story, 6/22/2018.
Donations to Hawaii Hospice